Last Thursday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, released a resolution to Congress and a broad outline of a vision for a Green New Deal, a plan to battle climate change as well as economic injustice. It sets goals for some drastic measures to cut carbon emissions across the economy, from electricity generation to transportation to agriculture. In the process, it aims to create jobs and boost the economy. Sixty members of the House and nine senators are co-sponsoring the resolution, including several presidential candidates. ( The Resolution in pdf).
Their blueprint proposes to develop a carbon-neutral economy in 10 years. Specifically, the resolution says it is the duty of the federal government to craft a Green New Deal “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions”. That includes getting all power from “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources”. It does not call for a cessation of new fossil fuel extraction.
The resolution says significant portions of the American population are suffering from declining life expectancy, exposure to pollution, and lacking access to healthy food, healthcare, housing, transportation and education. It spotlights wage stagnation, lacking socio-economic mobility, income inequality, a racial wealth divide, a gender pay gap and weakened bargaining power for workers. Accordingly, it endorses universal healthcare, a jobs guarantee and free higher education.
The resolution also includes a call “to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth”.
As Senator Kamala Harris said: “For too long, we have been governed by lawmakers who are beholden to big oil and big coal. They have refused to act on climate change. So it’s on us to speak the truth, rooted in science fact, not science fiction.Here’s the truth: climate change is real, and it is an existential threat to our country, our planet, and our future.” And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated: “The Green New Deal will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in the Marshall Plan . . . Half-measures will not work . . . The time for slow and incremental efforts has long past.”
It is clear that the food system, from the seed to supper to the landfill, exerts a major influence on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The resolution seeks collaboration with farmers and ranchers “ to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including— (i) by supporting family farming; (ii) by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health; and (iii) by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food”. The Organic Consumers Association is already calling for the food movement to get behind the Green New Deal.
Check out your own favorite environmental organization – Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Green Peace, 350.org, the Sunrise Movement, etc. See what they are saying. Climate change hearings have already begun in Congress. This is a non-partisan issue, a planetary issue for our fellow inhabitants across the globe. It may not feel like it right now in our own country because the Green New Deal is bringing climate deniers to the forefront, as well. But the Green New Deal is certainly a clarion call. It will certainly be a major debate issue in the 2020 election. And certainly there should be a role for the faith community to engage in this dialogue. We at AZIPL would love to hear from you! Perhaps consider joining one of our three Action Teams – Food Justice, Environmental Justice, or Renewable Energy. We need your voice and your passion.